Once this was a love song but today it illustrates the dimensions of the surveillance society that exists in the modern world.
“I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day through
In that small cafe, the park across the way
The children’s carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well.”
The lyrics to this familiar 1940s favorite suddenly has new meaning. It was recently revealed that two giants of the digital world have begun to use their own drone surveillance aircraft to take satellite-grade imagery. They are making maps so detailed that they can show objects just 4 inches wide.
Google admits that it has sent planes over cities to photograph while Apple purchased a spy-in-the-sky company that uses technology that has been tested in over 20 cities, including London. I don’t know about you but if it’s been used in over 20 cities already, it’s beyond the testing stage. That’s full-out surveillance.
Google has had Google Earth, their extraordinary 3D program that let’s the user explore the world from anywhere for a number of years. Microsoft has their Streets and Trips travel planning software for quite some time. Just today, Apple has announced that their new mapping software will be integrated in their operating system.
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Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, warned that privacy risked being sacrificed in a commercial ‘race to the bottom’. ‘The next generation of maps is taking us over the garden fence,’ he warned. ‘You won’t be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures.’
Apple’s spy planes are believed to be equipped with technology developed by defence agencies to guide missile strikes. Each plane is equipped with multiple cameras taking high-resolution photographs of buildings and landmarks from every possible angle, which are then compiled to make three-dimensional images. The military-grade images are taken at a height of around 1,600ft, meaning people below are very unlikely to realize they are being photographed.
The surveillance society has been expanded dramatically over the last decade. In Great Britain, there is a camera on what seems to be every street corner. In London and other major U.K. cities surveillance is 24/7 with 4.2 million cameras, one for every 14 people.
The Surveillance Studies Network, a group of academics, predicts that by 2016 shoppers could be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.
“That these surreal proposals should even be contemplated shows how far beyond Orwell’s worst fears we have travelled,” leading left-wing barrister Michael Mansfield, QC said in his autobiography, in Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer.
In 2009, a report by the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out that government-financed surveillance cameras are running rampant across the United States.
Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program, said that, while the cameras have helped nab suspected criminals, he believes they provide a false sense of security. “It’s the illusion of security … public authorities like to give the impression they are doing something about crime and terrorism.”
He said it is impossible to quantify exactly how many government-backed surveillance cameras are in the public right of way, but they are in virtually every U.S. state.
Prior to 9/11, Americans were relatively relaxed about internal security. But once the ramifications of the ‘War on Terror’ sunk into the American psyche, everything changed.
Security at transportation centers was tightened. Airports, train stations and public buildings saw heightened security because they were believed to be terrorist targets. The appearance of police officers dressed like soldiers made the security appear to be more military. Like the Israelis, Americans began to feel that they were under siege and the constant threat of attack.
This allowed the government authorities to gradually ratchet up the surveillance society. With new high-tech cameras and other surveillance equipment, the United States has been able to protect the homeland from another attack. This has allowed the authorities to continue to increase our level of security.
But one must ask this question. When does security turn into suppression? When does protection chip away at our basic liberties? Do we have too much security? Only the American people can decide if that’s happening . That means you the citizen must decide.